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Quick Facts :
What Is a Gastroenterology Nurse?
Gastroenterology is a field of medicine that focuses on the health of the digestive system, including the stomach and bowels. Diseases and illnesses of the digestive tract often produce very uncomfortable symptoms and will often affect the health of the body as a whole. For example, some gastroenterology disorders can affect the amount of nutrients the body absorbs. Gastroenterologists and gastroenterology nurses focus on treating and caring for individuals suffering from diseases and disorders of the digestive tract.
Endoscopy is a common technique used to diagnose gastroenterological disorders. An endoscopy procedure involves inserting a fiber optic tube with a camera into the bowels to get a view of the lining of the intestines. Gastroenterology nurses that specialize in performing and assisting with these procedures are referred to as gastroenterology/endoscopy nurses or simply endoscopy nurses.
Gastroenterology procedures (particularly endoscopy procedures) can be uncomfortable and stressful for the patient, so gastroenterology nurses must be skilled at the procedure (to minimize pain and discomfort) and possess a calming bedside manner (to help calm the patient).
What Do Gastroenterology Nurses Do?
When first meeting with a patient, a gastroenterologist and gastroenterology nurse will often review the patient’s medical history, symptoms, and vital signs. A gastroenterology nurse will also often be responsible for collecting samples and performing other diagnostic procedures, such as x-rays, ultrasounds, and barium enemas. Endoscopy nurses will assist during or perform endoscopy procedures.
Caring for and treating a gastroenterology patient is an important part of being a gastroenterology nurse. As a gastroenterology nurse, you will often help explain the different options available to patients as well as the benefits and risks associated with them. You may also help patients take medications and give them advice on nutrition. During surgical procedures, a gastroenterology nurse may also be asked to assist during surgical procedures as well.
Long-term care after gastroenterology problems is also sometimes necessary. Gastroenterology nurses help patients prepare themselves for a life with gastrointestinal problems. They may offer advice on what to eat an what not to eat, for instance, or how to manage symptoms associated with their disorders.
Where Do Gastroenterology Nurses Work?
During a career as a gastroenterologist, you will often be able to find positions in hospitals and well as private specialists’ office. Some clinics and long-term care facilities might also hire gastroenterology nurses.
How Do I Become a Gastroenterology Nurse?
To become a gastroenterology nurse, you will first need to become a registered nurse (RN) by earning a nursing diploma or degree and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
Certification as a gastroenterology nurse, which is voluntary, can be obtained through the American Board of of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses (ABCGN). In order to sit for the certification examination, you will need to have at least two years of full-time experience or 4,000 hours of part-time experience working in a gastroenterology setting.
Additional Resources for Gastroenterology Nurses
- Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, Inc. (SGNA)
- The European Society of Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Nurses and Associates (ESGENA)
- Canadian Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (CSGNA)
- American Gastroenterological Association
- North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology (NASPGHAN)
- The American Board of Certification for Gastroenterology Nurses, Inc.